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Dozens of peasants from La Via Campesina groups in several African countries, as well as representatives of allied organizations, gathered at the Fambidzanai Center of Permaculture in Zimbabwe for the International Conference on Peasant Seeds, held from November 12 to 14.
The place is 20 km west of the country’s capital, Harare. The peasant meeting was organized by the Zimbabwe Small Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF), the organization which is the current International Secretariat of La Via Campesina, as decided at the organization’s 6th International Conference held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Boaventura Monjane of La Via Campesina and Real World Radio correspondent interviewed the chair of ZIMSOFF and general coordinator of La Via Campesina, Elizabeth Mpofu, during the conference. The leader talked about the importance of the conference in the fight for African peasant seeds, against the corporate attempt to appropriate them.
According to the information provided by La Via Campesina, the international conference on peasant seeds aimed to discuss about the threats posed to the African farmers’ seed systems, in particular, on the recent harmonization of regional seed regulations, as well as the peasants’ response to that.
The peasant conference took place weeks after the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed a cooperation agreement with La Via Campesina where it recognizes the key role played by small farmers in the world, including African peasants.
Despite this recognition, the African peasants and family farmers suffer the threat of
genetically modified seeds and the harmonization of seed regulations in their countries.
La Via Campesina explains that a report presented by the African Center for Biodiversity says the governments of the region will be under increasing pressure to harmonize their seed legislation, that they will implement border and phytosanitary controls, as well as patterns of certification and protection of plants based on the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (PVP 1991). This damages peasant farmers and their seed system, since they would lose control of biodiversity and food sovereignty.
Imagen: Vía Campesina
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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